Louis Foster extended his lead in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with a dominant drive in Race One this morning for Exclusive Autosport in the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. Later on Saturday afternoon, reigning Cooper Tires USF2000 Champion Kiko Porto claimed his maiden win for DEForce Racing in a pressure-filled race two.
Mexico’s Salvador De Alba (Jay Howard Driver Development) finished a distant second in the opening race, narrowly ahead of Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing).
Yuven Sundaramoorthy put a string of disappointing recent results firmly behind him in the second race with a measured drive to third for Pabst Racing.
Foster enjoyed the perfect start to his weekend by snaring the Cooper Tires Pole Awards for both races during a pair of qualifying sessions on Friday. After a brief early caution period following a couple of incidents on the opening lap of the first race this morning, the 19-year-old Briton took off like a scalded cat, pulling away from his pursuers at better than a half-second per lap. His advantage was immediately nullified following a second, even more brief, full-course caution after nine laps, but Foster quickly reasserted himself at the restart and romped to a thoroughly dominant victory, his fourth of the season. Foster’s final margin of victory after 30 laps was a whopping 14.5615s.
De Alba continued his impressive first season of open-wheel racing by vaulting from fifth on the grid to second during the opening stages. The former stock car driver then drove a beautifully judged defensive race for the Jay Howard Driver Development team as he held off persistent challenges from Siegel, the early season points leader, and DEForce Racing teammate Porto. The Brazilian equaled his best result of the season to date by finishing fourth ahead of Josh Green (Turn 3 Motorsport).
Pakistan’s Enaam Ahmed overcame a disappointing run in qualifying to rise from 10th on the grid to sixth ahead of Juncos Hollinger Racing teammate Reece Gold, while local driver Braden Eves (Jay Howard Driver Development) bounced back from a fuel pump issue in qualifying to rise from dead last on the grid to eighth. Eves picked up the Tilton Hard Charger Award for his efforts.
As polesitter, Foster was hoping for a repeat of his dominant drive earlier in the day but Porto, who started second, thwarted that plan by passing Foster just a few turns after the green flag. Foster maintained steady pressure on the young Brazilian throughout the 25-lap finale – never falling further than a few tenths of a second in arrears – but Porto never put a foot wrong as he held on to secure his maiden Indy Pro 2000 victory.
It soon became a two-driver fight at the front while Sundaramoorthy toured comfortably in third. Gold, who started fourth, struggled after flat spotting a tire which opened the door to Ahmed to slot into the position. After starting ninth, De Alba also took advantage of Gold’s woes to round out the top five, which was enough to claim his fifth Tilton Hard Charger Award of the season.
Michael Duncalfe (Exclusive Autosport) and DEForce Racing’s Ernesto and David Martinez shared the two PFC Awards as the winning car owners.
Juncos Hollinger Racing holds a slender 10-point edge in the Team Championship, 250-240, with DEForce Racing only a dozen points adrift in third with six races remaining.
The Indy Pro 2000 Championship contenders will reconvene in two weeks’ time for two street course races just a few miles from downtown Toronto as the famed Toronto Indy returns to the racing calendar for the first time since 2019.